Street Brawls (11.02.1993)

I have been in street fights many times.

Unlike a controlled martial arts duel in the classroom with your feet bouncing on an inch-thick carpet, protected with paddings and knee guards, real life is slightly different.

The violence comes at you fast and wide, surprising you. Stunning you, disorienting you completely and it happens in a flash.

You could find yourself on the opposite end of a knife being asked for your wallet or surrounded by a group of angry muscles finding strength in their numbers trying to test their own manhood.

On being confronted, my immediate reaction is to deflect. My instinct is to diffuse and walk. One has broken enough limbs to know that ego does not matter. Being able to walk does.

But then when the deflections don’t work and the numbers are not against your favor, there is an immediate change in the mindset.

At the very moment when you have your hands in the air taking two steps back, the aggression from times ago kicks in.

A nearest upper lip, an unprotected groin, or even the more lethal version of an unguarded throat.

Most times they surprise you by backing away as quickly as they have come on.

Having been in this enough, you learn that most of them love the idea of a fight. Those movies have fed a sense of invincibility.

However, as the first contact finally gets to them, they stare at you in shock.

Can this be happening to me? What did I get myself into? they think.

It should be over at this point, but it doesn’t …

Because then you are running on adrenaline and want to go all out.

The passage of time and repeated visits to the local bonesetters in India have imparted in you some wise lessons on when to engage and when to walk away.

When in office politics or on the dark streets, most egos are satisfied by a white flag of surrender or your look of fear.

They don’t need to see the ugly side of you.

If you give them what they crave, everyone goes home unscathed.

Discretion is indeed a better-looking sister than its ugly sibling, valor.

At times, in those street fights, your biggest fear is not that you might get hit,

It’s that maybe your adversary will not make it home tonight.

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Life is represented by two distinct sets of people: The people who live it and the people who observe them. These are their stories.

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